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Total Articles: 39

Washington State’s Paid Sick and Safe Leave Update: The Administrative Regulations Are Finally Final

Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries has now concluded its process for drafting and finalizing the regulations for implementing Washington’s paid sick leave law, which becomes effective on January 1, 2018. Now employers can finish drafting legally compliant paid sick leave policies. The complementary enforcement regulations are still a work in progress and are not expected to be finalized until at least mid-December 2017.

Washington State Enacts Healthy Starts Act, Requires Accommodation for Pregnant Employees Regardless of Disability

The new Washington state Healthy Starts Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide accommodations to pregnant employees above and beyond those accommodations required by other available laws, including the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). Some of the required accommodations must be provided without medical certification and regardless of whether such accommodations would create an undue hardship.

The Current State of Meal and Rest Break Law in Washington State

This article summarizes certain aspects of the current Washington State law of meal and rest breaks, taking into account the latest appellate ruling on the topic, Brady v. AutoZone Stores, Inc., 188 Wn.2d 576, 397 P.3d 120 (2017). The requirements described here apply to non-exempt adults in non-agricultural employment.

Washington Employers: Prepare To Face New Workplace Laws

The past year has brought multiple new workplace laws that will require employers in Washington to change several key policies and procedures. Below is an update that provides a general overview to help you prepare for these new laws, in the order of the effective dates of each law.

Washington Enacts Healthy Starts Act: New Workplace Accommodation Protections for Pregnant Employees

Washington recently enacted new workplace accommodation protections for pregnant employees.

Washington’s New Healthy Starts Act Requires Employers to Provide Reasonable Accommodations to Pregnant Workers Absent the Showing of a Disability

Washington’s legislature recently passed a new Healthy Starts Act (the “Act”),1 which places significant obligations on Washington employers with respect to pregnant employees. These new obligations are not otherwise required under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (“WLAD”) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The Act, which became effective July 23, 2017, requires Washington employers with 15 or more employees to reasonably accommodate pregnant employees regardless of a disability, provides a list of such accommodations to be considered, and places specific prohibitions upon employers with respect to such accommodations.

Washington Joins Growing List of States with Laws Protecting Biometric Information

Not to be outdone by the recent attention to biometric information in Illinois, and the Prairie State’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), Washington enacted a biometric data protection statute of its own, HB 1493, which became effective July 23, 2017.

Washington Enacts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law

All Washington employers must provide paid family and medical leave under a bill signed by Governor Jay Inslee on July 5, 2017.

Washington State Approves Paid Family and Medical Leave: What Employers Need to Know

With Governor Inslee’s signature on July 5, 2017, Washington State joined just a handful of states mandating paid family and medical leave. Washington’s leave is funded by both employers and employees, and employees will be eligible to receive benefits beginning in 2020. The new paid leave program provides benefits of up to 90 percent of the employee’s income and matches Washington, D.C., in providing the highest percentage of income benefit of any state or district in the United States.

Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance Backfired, New Research Finds

When Seattle raised its minimum wage from $9.47 to $11.00 in 2015, the increase had little effect on employment.

Gig Economy Portable Benefits Bill Introduced In Washington State

We’ve written before about a proposal in New York that would permit gig companies to pay into a benefit fund for workers allowing them freedom to develop portable benefits; now, Washington state is considering a similar concept. House Bill 2109, introduced this legislative session, would take a giant leap by creating portable, prorated, universal benefits for workers in the sharing economy.

Seattle Proposes Revisions to Minimum Wage Rules

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) has proposed revisions to the city's minimum wage rules.

New Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Laws for Washington Employers

November 2016 was a dynamic month for laws relating to Washington State workers. At the state level, Washington voters approved Initiative Measure No. 1433 (“the Law”), which provides incremental increases of the state minimum wage beginning January 1, 2017 and paid sick leave beginning January 1, 2018. Washington was one of two states—the other being Arizona—to approve ballot measures providing for paid sick leave during the November general election. Washington and Arizona join five other states—California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont and numerous other localities including the Washington cities of Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane— who already require employers to provide employees paid sick leave. Locally, Seattle voters also approved Initiative 124, which imposes new and significant health and safety, healthcare, and hiring requirements on the City’s hotel industry.1

Washington’s New Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Become Law With Fast-Approaching Effective Dates

With all of the votes counted, Initiative 1433, which will raise the minimum wage and require paid sick leave throughout Washington, has passed by a fairly wide margin. The first substantial increase in the minimum wage begins on January 1, 2017, while the paid sick leave requirement goes into effect on January 1, 2018. Here are the key details about both the minimum wage increase and the paid sick leave requirements.

Seattle Retail and Food Services Employers Beware: New City Ordinance Restricts Scheduling Practices

The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a bill on September 19, 2016, enacting secure scheduling regulations for large employers in the retail and fast food businesses. Seattle is the second city, after San Francisco, to adopt such regulations. Mayor Ed Murray announced he plans to sign the ordinance within the next two weeks. The Seattle Secure Scheduling Ordinance will take effect on July 1, 2017.

Seattle Passes Predictable Scheduling Ordinance

The City of Seattle has passed a bill requiring certain large employers operating within Seattle city limits to give their hourly workers advance notice of their schedules and to pay workers extra for being required to work on call. Mayor Ed Murray announced he plans to sign the Secure Scheduling Ordinance. The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2017.

Seattle City Council Approves Secure Scheduling Ordinance

As widely anticipated, on September 19, 2016, the Seattle City Council passed the Secure Scheduling Ordinance (SSO), CB 118765,1 by a unanimous vote. The SSO mandates that large retail and food service employers provide two weeks’ advance notice to employees of their schedules, and compensate employees for alterations to their scheduled hours. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has publicly supported the SSO, and is expected to sign it promptly. Even if Mayor Murray does not approve the SSO, it will take effect pursuant to Seattle Municipal Code § 1.04.020 on July 1, 2017.

The Unpredictability Of Seattle’s Proposed Predictable Scheduling Law

In keeping with its goal of pioneering workers’ rights, Seattle’s City Council is expected to pass its Secure Scheduling Ordinance this fall, requiring certain retail and food establishments to provide both a “livable wage” and a “livable schedule” to their employees. While originally designed to imitate San Francisco’s secure scheduling law for large “formula” retailers, Seattle’s proposed ordinance will far surpass San Francisco’s in its employee and employer coverage, onerous requirements, and penalties.

Seattle Mayor’s Office Proposes Predictable Scheduling Law

The Seattle Mayor’s Office has proposed a Secure Scheduling Proposal that would require certain large employers operating within Seattle city limits to give their hourly workers advance notice of their schedules and to pay workers extra for being required to work on call.

Seattle Ballot Initiative Targets Hotel Industry

According to Ballotpedia, 140 state ballot initiatives in 35 states have already been certified for the November 8, 2016 election. This number does not include the many city-wide measures that will be before voters on Election Day. These ballot questions touch on a variety of topics, including raising the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana, and mandating paid sick leave. Among these measures is Seattle Initiative 124, which would impose new and significant health and safety, healthcare, and hiring requirements on the City’s hotel industry.

Seattle’s Updated Labor Standards Requirements

Seattle, Washington has amended the quartet of laws addressing labor standards (Seattle Sick Time and Safe Time Ordinance, Seattle Fair Chance Employment Ordinance, Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance, and Seattle Wage Theft Ordinance). These changes affect, among other things, notice and posting requirements and also strengthen enforcement.

FAQs on the Spokane, Washington Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law

On January 25, 2016, the Spokane City Council overturned the Spokane mayor’s veto and passed Ordinance C-35300, which provides paid sick and safe leave to employees performing more than 240 hours of work in the city of Spokane in a calendar year. Spokane follows the cities of Seattle, Tacoma, and SeaTac in implementing paid leave ordinances in Washington. The ordinance requires employers to provide employees with one hour of paid sick and safe leave for every 30 hours worked starting on January 1, 2017. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the new law.

Seattle Ordinance Giving Drivers Right to Bargain Collectively Violates Federal Law, Chamber Says in Lawsuit

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has challenged the Seattle City Ordinance giving drivers of app-based transportation companies that use independent contractors to provide services (such as Uber and Lyft) the right to collectively bargain. (See our post, Seattle City Council Enacts Ordinance Giving Drivers Right to Collectively Bargain, Legal Challenges Expected.)

Wading through the Changing Tide of Paid Sick Leave Laws in Washington State

2016 may be the most dynamic year yet for paid sick leave developments in Washington State. Two months into the new year we have already seen significant changes to the Seattle sick and safe time law, a new paid leave ordinance taking effect in Tacoma, and a new ordinance enacted in Spokane. At the state level, legislators are considering a bill to mandate paid sick leave statewide.

Seattle Enacts Law to Strengthen Wage Theft and Other Labor Standards Ordinances

Seattle Mayor Edward B. Murray recently signed a measure strengthening the city’s ability to enforce minimum wage and other workplace standards. The Wage Theft Prevention and Labor Standards Harmonization Ordinance 2015 harmonizes enforcement procedures, allows for a phased-in private cause of action, and provides key definitions of terms in the Minimum Wage, Administrative Wage Theft, Paid Sick and Safe Time, and Job Assistance ordinances.

East Meets West: Spokane Joins Western Washington Cities By Adopting Paid Sick Leave Law

Effective January 1, 2017, Spokane will join Seattle, Sea-Tac, and Tacoma as cities in Washington requiring employers to provide mandatory employee paid sick and safe leave. On Monday, January 11, 2016, Spokane’s City Council passed Ordinance No. C-35300, which provides the basic structure for a paid sick leave law that will go into effect next year.

Spokane PSL on the Way

Spokane may soon be the first 2016 PSL jurisdiction. Just 11 days into the New Year, its City Council passed a PSL ordinance. (Ordinance No. C35300). The mayor has vowed to veto it but the Council passed the ordinance by a wider margin than needed to override that veto.

Seattle City Council Enacts Ordinance Giving Drivers Right to Collectively Bargain, Legal Challenges Expected

Landmark legislation giving drivers of app-based transportation companies, such as Uber and Lyft, the right to collectively bargain, has been passed by the Seattle City Council. However, the new law faces significant legal hurdles.

Seattle Adds Serious Teeth To Sick And Safe Leave Law

Amidst the uber-media commotion over the Seattle City Council’s December 14 adoption of a law allowing independent contractor rideshare drivers to unionize, many missed that Seattle also passed a significant bill amending Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Leave law to give it serious enforcement teeth. Among other new provisions, noncompliance now means facing higher civil penalties and a lawsuit from your employees – with the potential for an award of treble damages.

Washington Court Dismisses Medical Marijuana Claims Asserted by Employee

Another Washington court has held that an employer lawfully may terminate an employee for using marijuana, even when the employee had a prescription and used it off-duty. Swaw v. Safeway, Inc., No. C15-939 (W.D. Wash. Nov. 20, 2015).

Tacoma's New Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: What Employers Need to Know

Tacoma has now joined Seattle as the third city in Washington State to mandate paid sick leave for employees (certain hospitality and transportation workers employees in SeaTac also receive this benefit). The new law will go into effect February 1, 2016.

City of Tacoma Issues Rules Interpreting Paid Leave Ordinance

On August 5, 2015, the City of Tacoma, Washington published its final Paid Leave Rules (“Rules”) implementing Tacoma’s Paid Leave Ordinance (“Ordinance”).1 The Ordinance requires nearly all private sector employers to provide employees who work in Tacoma specified amounts of accrued, job-protected paid leave for personal illness, family care, domestic violence and bereavement starting February 1, 2016.

Pacific Northwest Employer Workplace News - August 2015

A metal casting company lawfully terminated an employee for his threats of violence to other employees, despite a claim that his depression/stress made him do it, the federal appeals court covering Oregon and Washington has ruled, upholding the dismissal of the employee’s disability discrimination lawsuit. Mayo v. PCC Structurals, Inc.

Beware State Wage and Hour Laws: Washington Supreme Court Upends Piece Work Calculations

Whenever I discuss federal law here on the blog, I usually add a disclaimer that reminds employers to check state and local laws before proceeding. With the proliferation of minimum wage increases, minding state and local laws is more important than ever. However, state laws can affect more than just the minimum wage. For instance, recently when answering questions certified to it by a federal district court, the Washington Supreme Court held that—as a matter of Washington state law—employers must pay employees for their rest breaks separately from their piece rate pay. The court further held that Washington law required that employers pay for those rest breaks at the greater of applicable minimum wage or the employee’s regular rate.

Tacoma is the Third Washington City to Mandate Paid Leave

Earlier this year, the City Council of Tacoma, Washington approved a Paid Leave Ordinance (“Ordinance”).1 Starting February 1, 2016, nearly all private sector employers must provide employees who work in Tacoma specified amounts of accrued, job-protected paid leave for personal illness, family care, domestic violence, and bereavement. Tacoma is now the third city in Washington State, joining Seattle and SeaTac, to require that employers provide a paid leave benefit.

Don't Fear The Reefer: Legalization of Marijuana To Have Little Effect on WA Employers

On November 6, 2012, Washington became a national trailblazer when voters approved a state initiative legalizing the recreational use of marijuana (Colorado passed a similar law the same day). As of December 6, 2012, it will no longer be illegal for adults over the age of 21 to possess one ounce of marijuana. The good news for employers: the new law does not change employers’ rights in any way, and zero tolerance policies may still be enforced.

Seattle's New Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

On September 1, 2012, Seattle's paid sick and safe-leave ordinance went into effect. The ordinance will require nearly all private-sector employers to provide employees who work in Seattle with specified amounts of accrued paid sick and safe time (PSST). Sick leave is, of course, self explanatory. "Safe leave" refers to time off related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance—Employers with Employees Working in Seattle, Are You Ready for the New Seattle Ordinance?

Effective September 1, 2012, most private employers that have employees working within the city of Seattle, Washington will be required to provide such employees specific amounts of paid leave for use for personal illness, family care, absences related to closures due to public hazards, and absences relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and the state of Connecticut also have similar laws on the books.

Washington Employers Claim Victory In Medical Marijuana Battle

On June 9, 2011, the Washington Supreme Court handed employers a comprehensive victory in the long-running medical marijuana battle, deciding that employers need not accommodate an employee's use of medical marijuana, and that employees terminated for medical marijuana use – even offsite use – have no basis to sue their employers. Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Mgmt.
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